Difficult to talk/write about this.
Firstly because it’s not something I’m particularly happy to admit, but also because I’ve only recently become aware of it, or at least aware enough to be able to describe it. It’s something I’ve been in some way aware for years, and it might be getting worse, I can’t tell. So what is it?
Sometimes when I read, I lose the ability to read consistently and with ease. It doesn’t always happen. It seems to happen more when I’ve had a turbulent day, something that’s been happening a lot lately. I get into a state where instead of words coming off the page, so to speak, going through my eyes and being perceived by my brain, in a mostly consistent flow, it feels like there is some sort of buffering going on.
Instead of the words just streaming into my thoughts and brain, my brain seems to change into a mode that operates a bit like that quiz show where the contestants answer questions and have to bank the money at the right time or they loose it. I forget the name of that show, it’s with that dreadfully scary red head woman.
Anyway what happens is this. I read several parts of the sentence and at some point a hole chunk makes it through to my consciousness, all in one go, and on to the next bit that gets slurped in the same way. I have to speed up and slow down in just the right way, or bits start to get missed.
I become aware that it’s happening and I kind of feel when the next chunk is going to be ‘let in’, and that screws up the rythm, and so some chunks get skipped or only partially comprehended, and I find that I have to constantly go back and re-read passages to fill in the gaps.
Perhaps it’s got something to do with being tired. But I’m thinking it might be something else. When it’s not happening, when I’m feeling uncluttered and fresh, the buffering thing doesn’t appear to happen, reading is as smooth as ridding a hover board. When it’s happening it feels like someone is turning a tap on and off.
Something that I’ve noticed that is very different the past several months is that I see a lot of people swinging their arms. This sounds really weird, but at some stage a few months ago basically everyone everywhere started a new exercise routine, where they swing their arms backwards and forwards. Some people do it standing still, others do it while they walk. Sometimes they are doing it while walking backwards.
It’s the new trend where I am. I see literally hundreds of people doing this every single day. That wasn’t always the case. I’m not sure exactly when it started happening. Anyway it’s something that people do, a lot, fair enough, but I wonder if it’s affecting my ability to read smoothly because I’m visually seeing this repetitive up down motion over and over again. It might be completely unrelated, but I think it’s worth mentioning.
I wonder if it’s happening to others without them realising. It’s quite subtle, easy to brush off, especially if you operate day to day with things like caffeine and alcohol. I don’t consume alcohol (it’s been 3-4 years now), and caffeine relatively rarely.
I’ve also noticed my memory at certain times isn’t as good as I expect. I’m trying to remember something, I almost remember it, I can just about feel the thought poping into my head, and then it’s gone, sometimes this happens several times before the memory finally makes it’s way through to my conscious mind.
Occasionally I have to get on with something else, to distract myself from myself, and the memory comes back randomly like a callback function that just got delayed by a very slow internet connection, and a temperamental firewall.
Depending on where you are, you might find people around you that know about this will try to ‘hack’ you. That’s something that definitely happens. It’s a good opportunity to practice keeping calm under pressure, or just to surrender and move on to another place.
That’s my best description of the reading and memory issues I sometimes have. Just putting it out there in case it helps someone else that might be having similar problems.
I haven’t found many ways to improve it apart from just not doing anything for a few hours. I guess meditation can be good too. I do that occasionally. These are not always possible options, sometimes you just have to soldier through to get what you are doing done.
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